Maximilian Kleber even sacrificed his participation in the home European Championship in order to fully attack again in the new NBA season. The 30-year-old player wants to play again for the championship with “Dallas Mavericks”.
The EM bronze medal is not in Maximilian Kleber’s trophy collection. an NBA championship ring could be on his finger soon. The Würzburg player, who has been struggling with an ankle injury for a long time, has deliberately sacrificed participation in the European Championship at home in order to get really fit when the NBA season starts next week. His Dallas Mavericks are then among the favorites.
“We’re not going to run under the radar anymore like we probably did last year. Instead, teams come to beat us,” Kleber says in an SID interview. If the Mavericks only fell short in the conference finals to the eventual champion Golden State Warriors last season, they are hungry for more this time around. Of course, Kleber says, Dallas wants to get back to the playoffs.
As for championship contenders, the 2.08m giant even ventures out of cover. “Right now I’d like to say Dallas, but I think there are some other strong teams out there. A lot of people have the Los Angeles Clippers on their radar with Kawhi Leonard back,” the Big Man said, but overall, the competition this time around is “extremely hard to rate.” The Mavericks, for whom superstar Luka Doncic wants to continue working on his monument, have to hide, but no way.
When Kleber and Co. open up against the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night (4:00 p.m.), the German will be entering his sixth NBA season. He is currently still working on the preparatory works. Also present is a certain Dirk Nowitzki, who now works as a consultant for the Mavs. “Dirk is always here in Dallas. He also works out a lot. We see each other almost every day,” says Kleber.
Maxi Kleber. The new contract is a fair deal
Sure, he still doesn’t have Nowitzki’s status in Dallas, but Kleber is valued in Texas, even though he’s less of a man for big moments or crazy stats. The club recently extended Kleber’s contract for three years. During this period, he will earn a total of 33 million euros until 2026. Averaging 7.1 points and 4.8 rebounds so far in his NBA career, the totals may seem a bit high.
But Kleber clearly knows the value of that and talks about “a fair deal (…) If I play the five and take the opposing five out of the pick and pop zone, most of the time I don’t get it.” But that just opens up the floor for all the guards who can then go to the basket without a big opponent coming in,” explains Kleber. He also has “a big impact defensively because I’m one of our best defenders and I can help a lot.”
To bring these qualities, however, Kleber must be 100 percent. However, the ankle caused problems last season. Kleber still had an impressive playoff run, but he paid for it by missing the European Championship at home. “It didn’t hurt, I was just happy,” Kleber said of his teammates’ bronze coup, “because it’s very good for German basketball.” This also applies to NBA champion Maximilian Kleber.